INTRAnets and Internets?
During the past two years the Internet and the World Wide Web have changed the way we receive information and communicate with others. The very same capabilities can be harnessed and applied to support people and organizations in exciting, new ways.
Intranets are limited and controlled access Webs which use the same protocols and standards of the public Internet. Staff using personal computers, located anywhere, connected to the Internet, can work together on projects regardless of physical or departmental boundaries. The best people, located at collaborating organizations can come together to arrange workplans, share schedules, revise documents, and, most importantly, bring in others as needed.
Intranets are about bringing together people and making sense of information. People associated with best practice can come together with people who undertake and understand the best research. Records they use can be made available as broadly or narrowly as necessary.
What are the benefits?
1 – Global accessibility. Boundaries dissolve. Anyone with a computer, modem, and password permission can access the shared information and the shared discussion spaces.
2 – Platform independence. A Web browser becomes the universal interface. As long as the users computer can use a graphical browser, no other software is required.
3 – Low training costs. Familiarity gained by ‘surfing’ the Net can be applied to working together.
4 – Common standards. Communication standards and display standards make it possible to share and present complex information without cumbersome protocols or data conversion.
5 – Scalability. Additional users can easily be added as needed. Resources can easily be replicated, added or expanded, if demand warrants, without changing the basic operation.
6 – Security. Information in the shared work areas can be controlled by a variety of means including secure sockets and passwords. Project teams decide who sees what information.
7 – Presentation. Complex data can be presented in hyperlinked layers which meet the needs of information seekers to ‘drill down’ to more detail.
What will our new capabilities support?
1. Connecting distributed staff and collaborators. The physical or organizational location of anyone necessary for effective results will no longer be a barrier.
2. Decentralized access to a virtual storehouse. The partner organizations will create an ordered and accessible virtual collection which can be shared publicly or to restricted groups.
3. Group communication. The project becomes self documenting. Online discussions can be viewed at any time by new members and available for review later.
4. Tracking information. Automatic tracking and reporting on document usage supports necessary functions such as version control, accounting, and usage patterns.
5. Encouraging creativity. Projects which cross many skill sets, organizational and other boundaries are often seen as messy. The capabilities we are implementing will permit team members to negotiate responsibilities and timelines without needing rigid control structures.